Productivity Abundance: Using HR Tech to Unlock its Power

Productivity Abundance: Using HR Tech to Unlock its Power

In a 2024 trends and outlook piece, Josh Bersin said that that C-suite leaders are being pressured to “hoard talent, invest in productivity, and redevelop people for growth.” Bersin called it The Productivity Advantage. This productivity abundance strategy entails improving pay equity, continuing hybrid work models, investing in human-centered leadership, and giving people opportunities for new careers inside the company. This is why talent marketplaces, skills-based development, and learning in the flow of work are so important.

“If you can help your company move faster, you can reinvent faster than your competition.” Like many leaders in the business world, Bersin also predicts that leveraging AI for processes will be key to achieving productivity.

Productivity Abundance for Teams 

In an era dominated by rapid technological advancements, adaptability and forward-thinking strategies are in demand. According to McKinsey, companies that are agile in this aspect are redefining operational excellence, maximizing returns from both talent and software investments while fostering innovation to drive growth.

McKinsey researchers also point out that digital and AI transformations can more closely unite business operations while also enhancing workforce skills and empowering teams to innovate. This indicates that output doesn’t have to come at the cost of personal creativity or the human aspects of our work. Technology can facilitate positive results for both the business bottom line and the wellbeing of the workforce, say the report’s authors, leading to collective prosperity for the totality of the organization.

From Productivity to Human Performance

According to Deloitte, the once-straightforward correlation between individual tasks and tangible outcomes has become blurred in today’s complex, collaborative environment. Traditional metrics—like hours worked or widgets produced—are no longer sufficient in measuring success, especially with the rise of technology and AI automating routine tasks.

Those forward-thinking businesses won’t only calculate success by conventional measures like revenues and profits, according to Deloitte’s findings, but also consider the job satisfaction of individuals and teams. Deloitte identifies this shift as embracing a new paradigm centered around human performance, one that emphasizes the value of factors like employee happiness, psychological safety, and growth and development.

“New approaches can and should consider the worker as a human being, with a more nuanced perspective on how they contribute to the organization,” according to Deloitte. Even in fields like logistics and manufacturing, where productivity indicators seem most relevant, automation can free up the workforce for other objectives, such as developing “creativity, critical thinking and collaboration” skills, say the researchers.

Analysts point to the following indicators that reframing productivity with a focus on human performance is right for your organization if:

  • There’s a narrow focus on output rather than broader organizational outcomes.
  • Leaders feel inundated by data and seek to measure what truly drives success.
  • Despite technological investments, traditional productivity remains stagnant.
  • Workers engage in “productivity theater” to appear busy, but they feel burnt out.

If this sounds like your team or workplace, you aren’t alone. When Deloitte surveyed 14,000 business and HR leaders across many sectors in dozens of countries, only 8 percent said their organization is leading in the use of human performance metrics.

As tools for capturing workforce data expand beyond traditional metrics like hours clocked, HR teams are discovering solutions that measure collaboration, satisfaction, engagement and more. Deloitte suggests that leveraging new data sources empowers leaders to transition from merely assessing employee productivity to evaluating overall human performance.

Thanks to a rush of innovation driven by AI, a new class of HR tech tools offers exponential capacity for businesses to collect, measure and analyze data. Supported by machine learning and human judgment, Deloitte’s researchers say HR teams are in a unique position to convert the data into actionable suggestions.

Productivity Abundance through Smarter Collaboration

We’re at a stage where hybrid and remote working have moved from being an employee request, to an employee expectation. Business leaders need to embrace this change, making a concerted effort to create a working environment for talent that makes it easy for employees to work together–the key to team productivity and productivity abundance. Failure to do so will see businesses struggle to attract and retain their best talent and they will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage.

A recent American study of 1,100 companies carried out by the Institute for Corporate Productivity and Babson College found those that promoted collaborative working were five times more likely to be high performing and producing.

Just how much does collaboration increase productivity? The benefits of using AI-powered collaboration tools are real. Collaboration increases productivity abundance by 25% or more. A comprehensive workplace study by McKinsey looked specifically at the effect of improving collaboration through improved internal social tools, so it’s likely that the total effect of collaboration increases productivity by even more than 25%.

Employees Value Workplace Collaboration & Productivity Abundance More Than You Think

More than 50% of workers in the United States say their jobs are reliant on collaboration. 

  • 86% of employees in leadership positions blame lack of collaboration as the top reason for workplace failures.
  • About 75% of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as being very important.  
  • Employees are 17% more satisfied with their job when they engage in collaboration at work.

Over the last 20 years, workplace collaboration has increased by at least 50%.

  • Top-performing workers spend 45% of their time working collaboratively.
  • Only 9% of surveyed employees in a Deloitte study reported that their place of employment had very effective sharing and collaboration tools.

Collaborating on tasks and sharing ideas is valued at $1,660 per employee each year and that quality improvements made as a result of workplace collaboration are valued at $2,517 per employee each year. (Deloitte) And companies that promote collaboration at work have 5x better performance rates.

At the end of the day, focusing on workplace collaboration in the context of the employee experience and a more human-centered collaboration strategy doesn’t just help your people; it also helps the company. An employee who feels connection to others is an employee who is most likely to engage. And an employee who can fully engage is an employee who feels compelled to stay. That means you stave off the risk of the lost productivity that can arise when turnover is rampant or a worker shortage hits.

To learn how you can use leverage tools to increase team productivity, let’s connect.

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HR's Role in Personalizing the Employee Experience
HR's Role in Personalizing the Employee Experience

Traditionally, HR departments have been the go-to touchpoint for talent acquisition, retention and growth, compliance, and benefits. Today, rapidly changing organizational needs and technologies—primarily AI and machine learning (ML)—are driving HR professionals to take on additional business-critical responsibilities, such as strategic workforce planning, optimizing the onboarding process, and personalizing the employee experience. To rise to this elevated role, HR leaders are unlocking new skills, including data literacy, technology expertise, talent optimization, and more. Taking these five key steps helps ensure your business doesn’t just keep pace with change, but also stays one step ahead of it. 1. Improve your data literacy Organizations collect more financial, workforce, and operational data than ever before. As a result, companies are starting to recognize the importance of breaking down data silos and making data more accessible to those who need it. When businesses democratize their data, they enable employees to deliver more actionable insights, lead organizational change, and drive growth. The ability of HR teams to intelligently interpret and act on that data will be what distinguishes their success rate. You might not find “data literacy” in many HR job descriptions, but it’s an increasingly important skill, ensuring that HR professionals can take advantage of the vast amounts of data available in the modern workplace. Peer-to-peer interactions are a great place to begin improving data literacy. HR leaders should collaborate with subject matter experts within the organization and consider data analytics training options. Investing time and resources in data literacy will pay off greatly in an increasingly data-driven climate. However, accessing and understanding data is just the first step. Next, HR professionals will have to practice storytelling—namely, translating data into actionable insights. To do so, you can expect to take on more robust analytics capabilities in order to connect data points to key business outcomes. For many businesses, this may initially appear like a seismic shift in approach, but if anything, it’s the opposite. The HR teams of the future are already using augmented analytics to deliver smarter story-based reporting, finding the human aspect behind the data. 2. Embrace AI and ML HR has shifted to a skills-based economy—and AI and ML are at the heart of that change. AI is not only essential for building a skills-based people strategy and personalizing the employee experience, but also for automating repetitive manual tasks and driving efficiencies across different company processes. In addition, solutions with natural language processing (NLP) can surface insights surrounding employee sentiment with greater clarity and precision. Any approach to HR that doesn’t take advantage of AI is destined to fail. When it comes to strategy, AI is already driving major changes in how HR teams function. AI can help to identify patterns across vast amounts of data that may otherwise be overlooked. By providing real-time analysis and automated recommendations, AI enables business leaders to pinpoint specific areas for improvement. The most forward-thinking organizations are already using AI- and ML-driven technologies to make more informed decisions and reduce friction across employee workflows. For many businesses, the prospect of integrating AI and ML technologies with an existing product suite can be daunting, which is why Humantelligence uses many of the employee communication tools you already have. AI represents an incredible opportunity to rethink the entire employee experience with new levels of insight and personalization. Over the next five years, AI will reshape how HR teams handle people management issues, predict future skills gaps, recommend career moves, and much more. 3. Take a strategic seat at the table Where HR was once viewed as a trusted partner, it is now looked to as a strategic leader. New technology increasingly relieves HR of repetitive manual tasks, leaving time for more forward-looking responsibilities. The time is now for HR to take on greater responsibility in leading organizations through the changing world of work. HR can now collaborate closely with business partners to:Understand and plan for current and future skills needs Create strategies to build, buy, or borrow requisite talent Provide managerial insight to boost team performance and productivityAn organization’s people can be its most valuable resource but also one of its most significant expenses. As a strategic business partner, HR has the opportunity to take the lead in managing people in new and innovative ways. With increased access to critical data, HR leaders can take a more commanding seat at the table, informing critical business decisions and driving key outcomes by drawing connections between talent and business performance. 4. Master skills-based talent development We’re in the midst of a fourth Industrial Revolution that’s being driven by increased connectivity and automation. As with any major industrial change, there’s been a dramatic shift around in-demand skills. Many skills are becoming obsolete at the same time that new skills are emerging, such as data science or social sourcing, creating a competition for talent. This new skills-based landscape puts HR in a unique position to enact major change. As in-demand skills are changing, so too are career paths. Workers are moving from full-time to part-time work across organizations, frequently shifting into different roles to build truly individualized careers. What once was linear is now circuitous or filled with many starts and stops. As organizations continue to seek out new skills, workers will continue to move laterally to acquire them. That’s where skills-based talent management comes in. By identifying which skills are already present within the organization, which skills are needed, and the strategies necessary to fill those skills gaps, HR will shape our organizational future. By adopting the idea that skills are a currency for jobs and careers, agile HR teams can lead skills-based planning to identify internal supply and demand and create internal development opportunities to cultivate the skills your organization needs most. It’s up to HR to tackle identified skills gaps, engage the current workforce, and use the appropriate AI and ML technologies to bring the organization up to speed. By identifying which skills are already present within the organization, which skills are needed, and the strategies necessary to fill those skills gaps, HR will shape our organizational future. By adopting the idea that skills are a currency for jobs and careers, agile HR teams can lead skills-based planning to identify internal supply and demand and create internal development opportunities to cultivate the skills your organization needs most. It’s up to HR to tackle identified skills gaps, engage the current workforce, and use the appropriate AI and ML technologies to bring the organization up to speed. 5. Strive for a frictionless employee experience Competition for talent is fierce, and your people are your competitive advantage. If you can’t explain what sets your organization apart from other employers, your organization is in trouble. Candidates’ and current employees’ expectations of employee experience are rising higher and higher—and we’re not talking ping pong tables and pizza parties. Employees want to join an organization that invests in its people. A major part of that is creating a frictionless employee experience. Often there is a discrepancy between the technology we use during our “9 to 5” versus during our “5 to 9.” Outside of work, people have the information and resources they need at their fingertips—now, they expect the same when it comes to their workplaces. When introducing new technology to your organization, ensure that it feels as engaging and intuitive as employees’ consumer apps. Personalizing the employee experience isn’t complete without measuring what’s working and what’s not. Keep a pulse on employee engagement with technology that surfaces sentiment insights in real time. 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With this tool integrated into your employee communication tools, you can:Boost employee engagement and team productivity Help team members collaborate more effectively Elevate and integrate enterprise learning into the flow of work Recruit and engage the right talent Personalize the employee experience Empower your employees and match them to the right opportunities Create effective talent and learning plans

How to Lose an Employee
How to Lose an Employee

While certainly longer than the 10 days from the movie, did you know that your employees will decide in just a short 45 days if your organization—your team—is right for them? And sadly, more than 20 percent usually decide it’s not. In this article, we're sharing how to to lose an employee in the hopes that you don't! Spoiler alert: Don’t worry, this isn't a how to lose an employee article...we also give you 3 ways to save an employee in 45 days if you keep reading. In most cases, the number one reason a team member leaves is because of the manager-employee relationship. In fact, a GoodHire survey found that 82 percent of workers would quit a job because of a bad manager or friction with their boss. When you factor in the loss of productivity your team experiences when they leave, the gut punch to morale, and the time you invested in finding your new hire—which is often double the amount of time they actually spent on the job…we’re talking upwards of a 90 to 120-day hiring process—it’s really expensive and painful to lose new employees, or any employee, to issues like this. So here's how to lose an employee fast. Here’s How to Lose an Employee Quickly Play hard to get… As a people leader, your job is hard. You’re both a strategic leader and have to balance the day-to-day tasks and goals for yourself and your team members. Most of your day is consumed with 1:1s, team meetings, project-specific meetings, and reporting up to executive management. Your time is stretched thin, so while you’re not eluding your new hires intentionally, it could come off that way to them.  The first 45 days of managing a team member is like the honeymoon phase. You’ll have to set aside time each day to check in with them, while scheduling formal meetings. Add in a series of exploratory conversations and key questions so you can gain insights into your new employee. Find out what they like (or don’t) about their new position, learn about their expectations, and solve budding problems quickly. Serve up cookie-cutter training & onboarding… Of course, the administrative, IT, and general company overview are entirely necessary components of any onboarding process. But, when you stop to consider that every new hire is a unique individual with different ways of learning, communicating, and retaining information, it only makes sense that training and onboarding is personalized to each individual. Does it take more time, effort, and planning? Sure, but it also ensures your new hire feels valued—like they belong and are worth investing in—which results in increased employee satisfaction and motivation and a higher likelihood of retention.  Undervalue diversity of thought… Many of us are creatures of habit and doing something ‘because we’ve always done it that way’ just feels comfortable. But being closed off to different ways of doing things, new ideas, or other ways of working is a surefire way to create conflict between yourself and team members. Plus, managing people in ways that are comfortable to you, in ways that expect people to adapt to your working and communication styles, usually doesn’t lead to innovation, breakthrough ideas, or creative problem solving. When you create a team dynamic that allows people to bring in diversity of thought, the unique experiences of their background—and they know you’ll be open to it without fear of penalty—you’ll create a strong foundation of belonging and begin to achieve team goals in ways you might not have considered before.   Why the Manager-Employee Relationship Matters So Much You are the conduit through which employees receive important communications, understand company values, and experience belonging, growth, a sense of purpose in their work, and so much more. Your influence is impactful and often underestimated — and, in fact, the manager-employee relationship is perhaps the most important one in an organization.  According to this Gallup finding, managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. When there’s a focus on improving the employee-manager relationship, the outcomes are shown to be well worth the effort. For example, RedThread’s research revealed that companies with effective managers realize a higher NPS score and greater engagement. Positive manager-employee relationships management can increase productivity, creativity, innovation, and collaboration, while reducing employee absenteeism and turnover. Similarly, a report from UKG earlier this year found that 46% of managers said they were likely to quit because of job-related stress. Unlike individual contributors, managers are caught in the middle — expected to deliver on the demands of the business and to guide, coach, and relate to their reports in very humanistic ways. Hybrid work environments, along with employees’ changing expectations of their employers, have shifted the manager’s role and level of support needed. In fact, Betterworks’ State of Performance Enablement research shows that only a quarter of managers get the support they need to manage distributed  teams. Under half receive some support, and about a third receive support either rarely or not at all.  The bottom line is that organizations — specifically, those leaders with the most authority — have the responsibility and ability to adopt practices that will strengthen manager effectiveness and, ultimately, the manager-employee relationship. Besides that, why run the risk of losing good employees to something so solvable? 3 Ways to Save an Employee in Less Than 45 Days When you don’t make the time, provide templated training, and undervalue diversity of thought, you’re sure to create friction—and it can show itself in a variety of ways. If you find yourself saying things like:‘We don’t have time to discuss this…’ ‘This is the situation and here’s what we’re going to do…’ ‘I’ve got so much on my plate…’ ‘That’ll never work…’You are probably building friction with your employees, damaging the manager-employee relationship, and don’t even know it—that is, until they quit. When employees pick up vibes that you don’t like them or their ideas, that they’re not being treated fairly or feeling valued, or the differences in communication styles are causing misunderstandings, they’ll start to think of an exit plan. And who can blame them? It’s simply self-preservation. So before all that happens, consider that these three things can help you build positive manager-employee relationships that will encourage better productivity and collaboration among teams. When there’s mutual respect between a manager and a worker, there’s more willingness on both ends to offer support and perform well. Understand what makes your employees tick It’s no great secret that everyone works in different ways and that diverse working styles or work energizers can often clash and lead to conflict. Nothing hurts productivity and growth like a manager and employee who don’t know how to work together. All employees have different styles of working that draw on their strengths and weaknesses. And these different styles or work energizers make up a team dynamic. For teams to work together effectively, they should be aware of each other’s ways of working, and leaders need to be able to manage different work styles to their advantage. As a team leader, you have to understand and manage a variety of work styles every day to be effective. So let’s start with a quick little assessment. This test might sound a bit like you are at the eye doctor, but we promise it will be painless. Simply pick option 1 or 2 for each of the following questions:When it comes to solving problems, do you tend to be more  (1) Deliberate or (2) Decisive? When it comes to relating to people, do you tend to be more  (1) Reflective or (2) Outgoing? When it comes to your work pace or level of urgency, do you tend to be more  (1) Steady or (2) Spontaneous? When it comes to processes and procedures, do you tend to be more (1) Cautious or (2) Freeform?Now count up your ONEs and TWOs. If you end up with 3 or 4 ONEs, your overall work style is oriented toward stability. If you end up with 3 or 4 TWOs, your overall work style is oriented toward change. If you end up with 2 ONEs and 2 TWOs, you bring a balance between stability and change orientation. On any given team and depending on size, you may want at least two different types of work styles present. At minimum, you’ll want to understand a person’s work style and then figure out how to use it best.  There’s a popular decision-making practice where employees assume different thinking hats. For example, one employee may be tasked with coming up with new ideas. They’re encouraged to bring unpredictable or possibly outlandish ideas to a meeting. Another employee is then tasked with being more discerning. They ask questions and assess the risks of different ideas. By assigning team members a specific hat, at different times, for different projects, it opens up space for more inclusive discussions where a variety of ideas and perspectives can have a seat at the table. It’s a great way to bust dreaded group-think that often stifles innovation. This approach shows that every work style is a strength when expressed in the right situations. Tailor training to your employee’s personality When it comes to training, the old “one-size-fits-all” tactic just doesn’t cut it anymore. Just as in other facets of their lives, they expect a personalized experience. With a more tech-savvy workforce than ever before, online learning platforms are a big hit. Some organizations are even rethinking training content altogether and how they can better cater to diverse learning appetites, ensuring greater effectiveness in the long run. Fortunately, training and creating an environment that values continuous learning doesn’t have to take a ton of time and is easy when you leverage AI.  For example, say you have a new Gen Z hire that needs to email the head of sales, John, every week with reported leads. The problem is, they hardly know John and have no idea how John likes to consume information. With an AI tool that uses your company's previously recorded psychometric data, your new hire can use pre-supplemented suggestions to ensure their emails are comprehensive and useful for John, despite never meeting or hardly interacting with John. This AI-fueled approach to “on-the-fly” training can extend beyond emails to all communications, ultimately helping your employees learn new skills and making their contributions to the business more impactful. When you support your new hires like this, you’re setting them up for success and building a strong relationship out of the gate. Foster a sense of belonging When a team can see and understand how each person brings unique work-style strengths to the team, their capacity for better collaboration increases. Use a psychometric-based assessment to measure your team’s unique culture and determine the shared strengths of the team, as well as each individual team member. Then use your team meetings to talk about how those differences have benefited the team. Ensure you actively bring in your more reflective team members, as they may not readily volunteer what they are thinking. Tap into people who are wired for a specific topic. For instance, ask your freeform team members to come prepared with some new ideas. Leading team meetings with intention makes the meeting outcome more productive, and it allows you to draw on different team members’ strengths.  Here’s an example of how you can better manage a real go-getter on your team. You’ll want to be very direct with this employee. Tell him where he stands, what needs to be done, then get out of his way and let him do it. He’s all about getting it done. This team member will appreciate knowing where he stands with you. Meeting each employee where they are when you interact with them in meetings will go a long way toward fostering the trust you need to execute on the vision you have set for the team. How to Lose an Employee: “It’s like a Manager's Cheat Sheet for Working with Others” But we know what you’re thinking…how can you possibly expect me to keep track of everyone’s learning styles, communication preferences, and work styles? The good news is that you don’t have to. With every interaction, with any employee—new hire or not—you can see the personality traits of your colleague to understand what motivates them and how to best communicate with them.  We told you earlier that we know how to find out these things about your coworkers. We asked employee Ray to take a 10-minute assessment, and we learned that Ray is inquisitive and likes to gather as much information as possible. Now, when you reach out to Ray, you won’t feel defensive or bombarded by all of Ray’s questions because you know he thinks like a “Scholar” and that’s what scholars do. What’s even better, you don’t have to track, monitor, or remember any of this. With every email and interaction, you can simply write your message and then have generative AI re-write in the way that best suits Ray’s personality. No more friction. Just productive conversations and meaningful connections.